MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to fire the head and other commissioners of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte decided to fire the commission’s top officials, led by Chairperson Terry Ridon, because they failed to meet as a collegial body and had been making “unnecessary junkets.”
"This kind of work performance has no place in the Duterte administration," Roque said in a news briefing.
“We are serious about the drive against corruption in government and this latest decision of the President…prove beyond doubt the President is very serious in his anti-corruption campaign,” he added.
The PCUP’s four other commissioners are Melissa Aradanas, Joan Lagunda, Manuel Serra Jr., and Noe Indonto.
Roque initially said in the news briefing that Duterte would “abolish” the entire commission. He later issued an erratum to say that the President only intends to fire the commission’s top officials.
Duterte last Friday said he would fire an entire commission over anomalies involving its officials and personnel.
Duterte had appointed Ridon, a former Kabataan party-list representative who is associated with the Left, as PCUP head at the start of his administration, when hopes were still high that peace would finally be achieved between the government and communist rebels. The peace negotiations, however, have since collapsed.
Roque also denied that the decision of the President to fire the PCUP officials was because its head was associated with the Left, which recently had a falling out with the Chief Executive.
“Maski left-leaning naman si Terry Ridon, alam kong hiwalay naman siya sa mga grupong makaliwa dahil hindi na siya kinuha na maging nominado ng Kabataan party-list ng pangalwang beses. Minsan lang siya nanilbihan bilang nominado ng Kabataan party-list,” Roque said.
Ridon served as Kabataan party-list representative from 2013 to 2016.
In a statement, Ridon thanked Duterte for giving him the “opportunity to serve the nation,” even as he defended the track record of the commission.
“The public record of the agency can speak for itself: we had implemented with full integrity the presidential promise of no demolition without relocation,” Ridon said in a statement.
“We had represented government and given voice to the urban poor in international conferences on public housing, poverty alleviation and climate change, which was unprecedented in any administration. We performed our mandate to the best of our abilities, with integrity and competence, despite the heavy burden of undertaking genuine reform.”
Roque said he has no details yet on what were the unnecessary junkets that the PCUP officials had taken.
With Ridon’s departure, the only personalities associated with the Left who are still in the Duterte administration are National Anti-Poverty Commissioner chair Liza Maza and Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod.
The PCUP was created on December 8, 1986 through then-president Corazon Aquino’s Executive Order No. 82 to serve as the “direct link of the urban poor to the government in policy formulation and program implementation addressed to their needs.”
Aquino’s son, former president Benigno Aquino III, on March 29, 2012 issued Executive Order No.69 which aimed at strengthening the PCUP.